Carlin's Felipe Nasr took victory in the GP2 Feature Race in Austria
Brazilian cuts gap to Jolyon Palmer to just 29 points
By William Esler
Last Updated: 21/06/14 6:46pm
Felipe Nasr took victory in the GP2 Feature Race in Austria to close the gap to Jolyon Palmer in the Drivers’ Championship to 29 points.
The Carlin driver controlled the race from lights to flag to lead home McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne, who picked up his first points since the opening race of the season, and Ferrari youngster Raffaele Marciello.
Nasr made a great start to leap from third to first on the run to Turn One as Palmer and pole-man Johnny Cecotto bogged down.
The championship leader was lucky to survive the first corner as he dropped back into the pack and he, Stefano Coletti and Mitch Evans went three abreast into the right hander. The Russian Time driver made contact with Palmer’s sidepod, but all three would continue with Coletti third, Palmer fourth and Evans in fifth.
Of that trio, Evans was the only man to start on the prime tyre and a train of cars headed by Vandoorne had started to form behind him by the second lap. Up ahead and option-tyred Coletti and Palmer tried to chase down Nasr and Cecotto, who like the New Zealander had started on the medium tyre.
Fortunately for Vandoorne he got past just one lap later without his race being overly compromised with a lovely move at Turn Three having made a switch back at Turn Two, as up ahead Coletti and Palmer quickly dispatched Cecotto.
Vandoorne was the first of the leading runners to pit on lap ten and was immediately lapping a second faster than Palmer who inexplicably stayed out a further three laps, which cost him a position to the ART driver.
At the half-distance point the two differing strategies came together for the first time as the gaggle of cars headed by Vandoorne started to catch the backmarkers who had started on the prime tyres. The Belgian struggled to find a way past Simon Trummer which allowed Palmer to in turn challenge him. As they delayed each other, that allowed the flying Marciello, who had recovered from a nightmare start, to join the fight.
With 13 laps remaining Cecotto was the first of the leaders called into the pits and he rejoined behind the Vandoorne, Palmer, Marciello battle. The pole-sitter eventually finished sixth.
Three laps later both Nasr and Coletti were in and whilst the Brazilian comfortably resumed in the lead, the Racing Engineering driver had Vandoorne all over his gearbox on the run to Turn Two and the ART driver would take second spot away from the Monegasque man. Meanwhile, Marciello had passed Palmer for fourth into the first corner and he made that third a lap later with a carbon copy manoeuvre on his team-mate.
Coletti was clearly unhappy with his option tyres and did well to fend off Palmer as his pace fell away in the closing laps.
Upfront, though, and no one had an answer to the pace of Nasr who took only his second GP2 victory much to the delight of the watching Williams F1 Team with whom he serves as Reserve Driver.
“It was a perfect win for us today," Nasr said. "Everything started off the line and I was able to take advantage of those around me. I knew that I had to hold the position in the opening corners and take it from there.
"We did that and kept the lead and the car felt perfect – it felt so good to drive and did everything I asked of it. After that I made sure to set the quick laps that I needed before we came in for our pit stop to put us in a good position for the rest of the race. [Stoffel] Vandoorne got close but we were able to hold him off and take the victory. The team did a brilliant job again today and I’m very happy to be on the top step again.”
The GP2 Sprint Race is live on Sky Sports F1 from 9:30am on Sunday.
GP2 Feature Race – Austria
1) Felipe Nasr (BRA) – Carlin – 52:32.096
2) Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) – ART Grand Prix - +3.874
3) Raffaele Marciello (ITA) – Racing Engineering - +4.573
4) Stefano Coletti (MON) – Racing Engineering - +7.210
5) Jolyon Palmer (GBR) – DAMS - +8.902
6) Johnny Cecotto (VEN) – Trident - +10.319
7) Mitch Evans (NZL) – Russian Time - +14.924
8) Alexander Rossi (USA) – Caterham Racing - +20.994
9) Takuya Izawa (JAP) – ART Grand Prix - +28.182
10) Arthur Pic (FRA) – Campos Racing - +30.170
24) Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (GBR) – Rapax - +2 laps
1) Jolyon Palmer – 113
2) Felipe Nasr – 84
3) Johnny Cecotto – 61
4) Julian Leal – 48
5) Stoffel Vandoorne – 43